The San Antonio Spurs have a problem, but it's a good problem. They've got one roster spot left and a handful, but really two quality candidates to fill it. Eddy Curry and Derrick Brown have both had their high points of the preseason, so has Josh Powell, but the San Antonio Express News' Jeff McDonald wrote over the weekend the silver and black are looking at Curry and Brown for the final roster spot that will give them some added depth up front. The only question remaining is which big guy gets the final spot.
Curry is a low post scorer and a pretty gifted one at that. His problem has always been his weight and whether he can become slightly better than average at anything else. He said all the right things about wanting to work on his defense and rebounding and Coach Gregg Popovich praised his conditioning and said he's done a number of things well. Take a look at what he did against Omer Asik, one of the league's best post defenders the last two seasons. He moves well without the ball and when he gets positioning down low that's almost a guaranteed two points or free throws. Imagine what he'd do to back up big men. What Curry isn't is a guy who can step out and hit a 15 foot jumper. He isn't a pick and roll defender at all and isn't a good post defender, though I suspect he could become decent enough with some teaching that he's never really received in his ten years in the league. Overall, there are worse 15th men in the NBA.
Derrick Brown is the opposite of Curry. He's undersized, athletic and does a lot of things well that don't turn up in the box score. He has the ability to guard both forward positions, which becomes crucial when teams go small and Brown is able to play as the second big. He's also shown a willingness to be really active on both sides of the ball. Brown's range was supposed to be limited, but then he went out and went 4-4 including 1-1 from three. He's also young and presumably still has room to expand his game.
Here's something that's important to remember: Barring some sort of injury, neither Brown or Curry is going to see a ton of minutes. In Brown's case, he likely won't be asked to guard the likes of a Kevin Durant, a Josh Smith or even a Paul Milsap. Similarly, Eddy Curry isn't going to be asked to guard Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum or any other starting center. So you shouldn't take that into account when you're worrying about either guy's ability to defend.
Here's the main factor I'm looking at: If there's an injury to a member of the Spurs' second unit, which of the two would I rather have in a pinch? Brown is that energy guy you want off the bench, but the Spurs also have DeJuan Blair, Stephen Jackson and Matt Bonner to fill in at the back up four position (I think we're going to see a ton of Stephen Jackson small ball this year). On the contrary, if Tiago Splitter gets hurt, there is a size vacuum for the Spurs to fill. Not that Splitter and Curry in any way do the same stuff, but sometimes it's just a good idea to have an extra seven footer on your team, especially if said seven footer has some skill in the low block, which is important if the jump shots aren't falling for the bench.
So that's a slight endorsement for Eddy Curry. The Spurs don't have a guy with his particular skill set, while they have plenty of undersized power forwards. Having said that, Derrick Brown would instantly become the Spurs most athletic guy and would do a lot of dirty work. If his jumper became somewhat consistent, he could easily take some minutes away from Blair or Bonner. The most important thing to remember is when it's your 15th man, there's not really a wrong choice.
Photo: Express NBA